The inaugural QS Totally Arts Summit held at the Millennium Hilton Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, concluded successfully on Friday, 26 October 2018. Attending the Summit were more than 200 participants from more than 30 countries, who witnessed 28 presentations in plenary and parallel sessions and participated in seven panel discussions covering one-and-a-half days of programming.
Organized in collaboration with Thailand’s Silpakorn University, the Summit also included a parallel art exhibition showcasing the works of its students and faculty, and a range of exciting opening performances during the Welcome Dinner with jazz, acapella and modern interpretations of traditional Thai music and dance.
The discussions during the Summit touched on a wide range of issues, but there appeared to be general agreement on five core issues. First, the need for art schools to prepare their graduates for the job market, not just by teaching them or giving them an orientation but by bringing them into contact with gallery owners, design firms, practicing artists, etc. through internships and projects to hone the necessary social, organizational and entrepreneurial skills.
Second, art schools need to stimulate creativity by providing students with opportunities to fail and to then learn from that failure. Instilling this kind of creative resilience is essential for their future success in whatever field of art they choose to apply themselves.
Third, those who teach art should continue to be artists themselves so that they can remain at the cutting edge of their professions in terms of trends and technology. This is essential for them to gain the respect of their students and ensure they get the best possible education.
Fourth, art schools and artists need to be aware of their important role in shaping national and global culture. For example, in children’s literature many developing countries have a shortage of ‘mirror books’ that describe daily life in their own societies, which is an important part of nurturing young individuals with a strong sense of self-identity and self-esteem. However this importance also extends to addressing social, political and environmental issues. Including a sense of social mission in art education is well-received by students and external stakeholders alike.
Fifth, there is much to be gained from interdisciplinary and high risk ground breaking research wherein artists and designers work with engineers, scientists, sociologists, medical staff and other professionals. Bringing such collaborations about is not always easy, but can be achieved by removing administrative barriers by taking an open-minded approach to evaluating research output and realizing that a particular research problem is what can stimulate curiosity and collaboration between individual researchers. Researchers meeting or working in close proximity to each other does not automatically lead to collaboration.
The main Seminar program ended on Friday afternoon, after which delegates enjoyed a visit to the Grand Palace and other historic sites and a cruise along the Chao Phraya river. QS is keen to build on the success of the inaugural QS Totally Arts Summit and hopes to organize a second edition in the not too distant future.